Hairy Hedge Nettle (Woundwort)
Stachys palustris arenicola
Mint family (Lamiaceae)
Description: This native perennial plant is about 2-3' tall and little branched. The four-angled central stem is covered with fine hairs. The opposite leaves are up to 4" long and 1¾" across. They are finely serrate along the margins and sessile against the stem (or nearly so). Their upper surface is dark green and covered with fine short hairs, while the lower surface is light green with hairs along the major veins. The foliage has a slightly rank smell. The central stem terminates in a spike of flowers about 4-8" long when fully mature. This spike consists of about 6-10 whorls of flowers, each whorl having 4-8 flowers. A typical flower is about ½" long and tubular, with a hairy upper lip and a lower lip that is divided into 3 lobes (a large central lobe and smaller side lobes). The flowers are usually white with splotches of rosy purple; sometimes they are pink. The hairy calyx is green or purplish green, and divided into long triangular sepals. These sepals are more than half as long as the tube of the corolla (excluding the length of the lips). The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 1-2 months. There is a mild floral scent that is sweet and pleasant. The flowers are eventually replaced by capsules containing small nutlets. The root system is rhizomatous and produces tubers that are edible. Hairy Hedge Nettle often forms vegetative colonies of varying size.
Cultivation: The preference is moist conditions and light shade to full sun. A soil that is loamy or sandy is satisfactory as long as it remains moist. Unlike other members of the Mint family, foliar disease doesn't appear to bother the leaves to any significant degree.
Range & Habitat: Hairy Hedge Nettle occurs primarily in central and northern Illinois, where it is occasional to locally common. In southern Illinois, it is absent or uncommon. Habitats include moist black soil prairies, edges of marshes, moist meadows in woodland areas, low-lying areas along roadsides and railroads, and the edges of fields. This plant can be found in either disturbed or high quality habitats.
Faunal Associations: The flowers are visited by long-tongued bees primarily, which seek nectar. This includes such visitors as bumblebees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, Miner bees, Little Carpenter bees, and Anthophorine bees. Sometimes the flowers are visited by butterflies, skippers, and moths, but they are not very effective at pollination. Smaller short-tongued bees also visit the flowers to collect pollen. Like many other members of the Mint family, the foliage is not favored as a food source by mammalian herbivores.